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Q&A: Kenya's Deputy President Hails Obama Visit

  • VOA News

FILE - Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto delivers speech in Nairobi, October 2013.

FILE - Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto delivers speech in Nairobi, October 2013.

Kenya's deputy president says President Barack Obama's visit to his country will strengthen relations between the two nations, after a period of strain.

William Ruto told VOA's "Africa 54" program that he also expected the trip to increase U.S. investment in Kenya and encourage more Americans to make Kenya a tourist destination.

"I hope to see more appreciation by the American public of the tremendous, magical tourist opportunity that exists in Kenya," Ruto said.

Ruto said Obama's visit was especially significant because the U.S. president has Kenyan roots. "President Obama is not just any other American president — he has African roots, and more specifically, Kenyan roots. And so it is significant in a very different way," Ruto said.

Ruto also addressed concerns about his indictment by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity and the fact that the White House said Obama would meet Ruto only at public events where government officials had been invited.

Ruto said that he was not bothered by the decision. He said Obama was visiting Kenya as a whole and was not the guest of any one individual.

"We do not want to trivialize this to individual matters," Ruto said.

The International Criminal Court has dropped charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for his role in deadly postelection violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008. Ruto remains on trial at the ICC for charges also related to the 2007-08 violence.

Before Kenya's 2013 election, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson caused a stir in Kenya when he said that "choices have consequences" — a comment widely seen as a warning to Kenyans not to vote for Kenyatta. Kenyatta went on to score a first-round victory.

Obama will be in Kenya for two days before traveling to Ethiopia, seat of the African Union.

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